1 Peter 5:2-4 NIV
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Excerpt from I will raise up Shepherds, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Jesus shows us: the shepherds won’t be kings.
They will be the humble but courageous
who speak and act for justice and mercy,
who receive power not by coronation
but by the anointing of the Spirit.
We won’t look to the powers to save us.
We will look to one another to tend us.
And God will give might to their compassion,
and fill their shepherding with power.
God will dwell within their struggle for justice,
and speak in their voices.
God will raise up shepherds who set free the oppressed
and bind up the brokenhearted—
in their wounds and to each other—
who resist those who destroy and scatter,
who tend to those who are fearful or dismayed or missing.
God will anoint them and raise them up
and they will be the shepherds who heal the people,
and justice and mercy will rule.
The prophet’s cry is not a promise of comfort.
This is a call to action. (Jeremiah 23:1-4)
We like to declare that the Gospel is counter-cultural, and thereby God-given and transformative. Should we not draw the same conclusion about ministry that is rooted in the Gospel? Isn’t our ministry supposed to be counter-cultural. too? And the most powerful way we do this is by adopting the biblical model of ministry–of being shepherds. The Bible’s use of this metaphor (in both Old and New Testaments) was a way of overturning the “CEO” model of religious leadership that defined and dominated Jewish priesthood. It made ministry relational, not regulatory–incarnational not institutional. Ministers were to be servants, not masters. Holiness was the watch-word, not hierarchy. People mattered more than position and power. Our need for counter-cultural ministry is as great as ever. The world experiences CEO’s all the time. But what they are longing for is pastors–people who will show up in their valleys with rods and staffs, ready to help them make it home. – Steve Harper, Counter Culture Ministry
There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let’s keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion. – Henri Nouwen
Listen Friends, what I want to tell you is this. The world needs you to start leading again. To step out of the shadows and into your strength, your skills, your compassionate heart, your crazy ideas. But you don’t have to be THE ONE in charge. And you don’t have to go it alone. Let’s share our strength. Let’s make room on the stage for the voices that have a whisper in a crowd. (They want to roar, and we need to hear them.) Let us – well and truly – LEAD.
– Rachelle Mee-Chapman, Tithe Your Power
The Bible doesn’t teach us to keep looking over our shoulders to see if others approve of us or not or to second guess ourselves when we see an opportunity to do more or to rise to the next level in the work God has given us to do. We’re told to fix our eyes on Jesus, to love God with every fiber of our being and give ourselves wholeheartedly to his purposes. – Carolyn Custiss James
Matthew 20:25-28 NRSV
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Spiritual leaders fear being judged in this one way—as either a success or a failure based solely upon numbers. If we live in this fear, we can never allow ourselves to listen to God. This is the pivotal choice every spiritual leader must make: serve God or serve our fear. If we serve our fear, we will be enslaved to the ways of the world and the egos of those around us who seek to control our lives. If we serve God, we will fearlessly be able to see and discern how God is working for life and growth in every situation, large and small. – Daniel Wolpert, Leading a Life with God
I think being able to apologize for my mistakes and not ever seeing that as a threat to my authority is critical…but that is different than apologizing for who I am. Everyone does this but I hear women do it all the time. It’s not helpful. I think trying to pretend to be someone that you are not does nothing but water down your power. Because in a way, we are most powerful when we are simply who God made us where God put us. Maybe this and only this is where our authority rests. No need to defend it or protect it or apologize for it. Just rock it, brothers and sisters.
-Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Authority of Apology
When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, he is not going to ask me if I was a clever orator. He is not going to ask me how many books I wrote. He is only going to ask whether I continued in the line of men and women, starting way back in the time of Adam’s grandchildren, who led others to call upon God.
– Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
Click here for an interesting discussion of authority, spiritual disciplines, and the Great Commission entitled Making Disciples in a Postmodern World by Bishop Ken Carter.
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